Protect Your Business With Better Cyber Hygiene

Katie Micik Dehlinger
By  Katie Micik Dehlinger , Farm Business Editor
(Getty Images, Brent Warren, Barry Falkner)

What would happen to your business if the balance in your account was suddenly zero or overdrawn? What if all of your invoices, payroll and other bookkeeping became completely inaccessible? Or, if you were unable to adjust the aeration system in your completely full grain bin after harvest?

It'd be an absolute crisis. It may be hard to imagine any of these things coming to pass, but cybercrime is on the rise, up 69% in 2020 from the prior year, according to an FBI report.

Your business may be small compared to JBS Foods, NEW Cooperative or others in agriculture that have fallen victim to cyberattacks this year, but size does not confer protection. I repeat: Your business is not too small to be hacked or fall victim to ransomware. In many ways, it actually makes you more vulnerable.

"They are looking for targets they believe are more prone to caving under an attack or to being exploited and not having the proper security resources in place," says Sarah Engstrom, chief information security officer and vice president of IT security, productivity and privacy for CHS, in the October 2021 Progressive Farmer cover story. "We are seeing it, and we are hearing of smaller companies getting pummeled with cyberattacks and ransomware."

I recently had a conversation with folks from CliftonLarsonAllen (CLA) in preparation for this year's DTN Ag Summit, and they anticipate a disturbing rise in cyberattacks targeting farming and ranching operations. These hackers tend to move by industry group, and farmers could be up next. That's why David Anderson, one of CLA's principals and a cybersecurity expert, will be joining us at this year's event, which will be held Dec. 5 through 7 in Chicago. He will share strategies farmers can employ today to safeguard their business's crucial data and technology.

In an industry that's generating more proprietary business data every year, relying more on software than pen-and-paper ledgers and connecting more devices to the internet each season, it pays to stop and think about your digital footprint. As the saying goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."


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